12 Different Types of Trumpets

There are many different types of trumpets. Aside from their differing appearance, every trumpet style has a unique tone and pitch.

The most common type is the Bb trumpet, the first on our list. Other trumpet types are the C trumpet, the D trumpet, the piccolo trumpet, the pocket trumpet, the bugle, the plastic trumpet, the flugelhorn, the natural trumpet, the cornet, the bass trumpet, and the slide trumpet.

1. The Bb Trumpet

The Bb trumpet is by far the most popular type of trumpet out there. The Bb trumpet, as we now know it, came into the musical fold in the 1800s, improving 100s of years of trumpet designs previously.

The video above is by Trumpet Master Classes with Dr. Brian Shook via Youtube. We’ve included this video a few times in the article at different timestamps as he demonstrates them very well.

The Mendini By Cecilio Bb Trumpet is a popular, affordable Bb trumpet (pictured below).

The Bb trumpet plays a role in many different styles of music, including Jazz, blues, rock, and pop music.

2. The C Trumpet

The C trumpet is very similar to the Bb trumpet since there is only a half step in the difference between their tuning. In fact, many may mistake them for each other. However, if you hear them play together, you will be able to tell the difference.

Generally, the C trumpet produces a sound more suited to orchestral music.

One key difference is that the C trumpet has a shorter tube. This is why it produces a better sound pitch.

3. The D Trumpet

The D trumpet came into the picture in 1861 and was used for Baroque music. It’s shorter than the C trumpet. However, unlike the C trumpet, the D trumpet is not great for solo performing; rather, it acts in the background by supplying additional notes that strengthen other instruments’ sound.

4. The Piccolo Trumpet

Piccolo trumpets are pitched an octave higher than the previously mentioned trumpets. They were effectively made to replace D trumpets. Piccolo trumpet also has an extra valve.

The most popular type of piccolo is tuned in Bb. Lastly, the Piccolo is small in size; it’s just slightly bigger than a pocket-sized trumpet. This makes them more convenient to move around.

5. The Pocket Trumpet

The original trumpet is large; hence, it’s difficult to move around. The pocket trumpet is a trimmed version of the original trumpet. It often comes as a Bb or C pocket trumpet.

What a pocket trumpet gives you is the sound of the Bb trumpet in a smaller body. Aside from their size, there are still some close differences. For instance, the pocket trumpet has a less piercing sound due to its tight coils.

As Bb Pocket trumpets are often aimed at beginners, you have to be careful when shopping around to make sure that you get one that’s made of good quality.

6. The Bugle

The bugle is a valveless trumpet that was created for military purposes. The absence of valves in traditional bugles meant the quality of sound produced solely depended on the player’s skill. The most common bugle trumpet is the soprano bugle, which delivers a low G pitch out of its bell.

However, many modern Bugle trumpets are beginning to come with a valve for better note change.

7. The Plastic Trumpet

The brand Pbone brought out a fully plastic trumpet called the pTrumpet, which is a pretty decent option for beginners who want to learn to play the trumpet. They are lighter and made to be more than brass trumpets, which makes them a great option for kids. They are affordable and sound surprisingly nice. Of course, you should eventually expect to graduate to using a brass trumpet, but this can be a good starting point.

8. The Flugelhorn

The Flugelhorn resembles a trumpet, but it’s technically a separate type of instrument. This instrument originated from Germany and was a core instrument in most ballads. The role of the Flugelhorn is to add range to the sound of a trumpet. Hence, it was not made to be used as a solo instrument.

The Flugelhorn has a striking resemblance to the Bb and C trumpet. That should give you an idea that it’s large. The Flugelhorn, to the amazement of players, can deliver both a soprano and a bass tune. Compared to the Bb and C trumpet, its sound is softer and more mellow.

9. The Natural Trumpet

Well, the first set of trumpets to make its way into the musical world had no valves. People who used this trumpet had to come up with their tune using lip positioning. These trumpets are what we call the “natural” trumpet.

The natural trumpet was designed for skillful players. A lot of the heavy work and tuning had to be done manually. The natural trumpets were gigantic and had 8 feet of tubing.

10. The Cornet

The cornet has a mellow tone due to its compressed body with more bends. It’s technically a separate instrument from a trumpet but quite similar in sound. It’s smaller than a Bb trumpet but larger than a pocket trumpet. The cornet is slightly easier to play in comparison to a trumpet, particularly for beginners.

The most common cornet is in Bb. Musical pieces written for the Bb trumpet can alternatively be played by the Bb cornet, but just because you can play one of these instruments doesn’t mean you can play the other!

11. The Bass Trumpet

Bass trumpets function as a supporting cast. Their playing mechanism is similar to that of a trombone. This means their tubing length is the same, but the bass trumpet has a stronger tone.

12. The Slide Trumpet

The slide trumpet provided more tone than the natural trumpet and became popular in the Renaissance period. The origin of the trombone came from slide trumpet.

A slide trumpet and the trombone have the same working principles. They both use a slide to produce the desired musical note. Operating the slide trumpet was cumbersome. The player moves the slide with one hand and holds the mouthpiece with the other.

The slide trumpet required a lot of skill, which is the reason it’s no longer in use in the modern world.


We hope this has served as an informative list of the different types of trumpets in the world. There are others, and there certainly have been many different variations of trumpets throughout history, but these are the most common types of trumpets in the world today.

Bb trumpet image by CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
C Trumpet image by: Aichas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Piccolo Trumpet image by: Christopher Roberts, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bugle image by: w:User:Nevilley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Flugelhorn image by: Photograph: Yamaha Corporation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Natural Trumpet by: Francisco Pérez, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons
Cornet image by: Nevilley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bass Trumpet image by: Esolomon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Slide Trumpet image by: Guido Magnano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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